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Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Cai Minghong. I came from the Polar Research Institute of China, Shanghai. Now I am participating in the Arctic 2005 research expedition sponsored by NOAA.

Here I want to give a brief introduction to biological studies conducted in this Artic expedition.

First of all, we need to understand the significance of Arctic research. We must study the Arctic to understand the area and its climate and to predict climate change. Recent studies suggest that the earliest onset of warming will occur in the polar regions, and that such changes will be the largest in polar regions. The climate changes have big impacts on Arctic region, atmospheric environment, ocean and etc. In the 1970s, the temperature in the Arctic Ocean, the continent of Asia, the continent of Europe and north part of the continent of North America increased rapidly, especially in the winter and spring. Over the past 400 years, temperature has kept rising. From the 1920s to the 1950s, the area of sea-ice cover and the thickness of sea ice in Arctic Ocean have been decreasing. The area of sea-ice cover was decreased by 10%-15% and the thickness of the sea ice was reduced by 1.3 meters. Recent researches have shown that in the big background of global warming, if the CO2 concentrations were doubled in the 1980s, the temperature in Arctic will increase by about 2°-3°C on average. Thus the multiyear sea ice will thaw and disappear which will result in the environmental change and have great impacts on the ecological system in the Arctic region.

Due to the above reasons, some research organizations and countries have proposed a number of Arctic research plans and have organized some research expeditions to Arctic.

The major objective of this Arctic research expedition focuses on biodiversity of life in Arctic Ocean. The Arctic expedition collects various scientific sampling species including bacteria, arctic whales, etc.

Now I want to give a brief description about the biota we are observing.

  • Bacteria and viruses: Bacteria and viruses are well known by people. They are an important part of ocean food chain.

  • Ice Algae: Ice Algae exists in ice cracks and will gain rapid growth in the spring by utilizing sunlight. Ice algae are important food resources for undersea animals.

  • Phytoplankton: The growth of the single-celled plants in the ocean known as phytoplankton provides the basis of all food in the ocean for many forms of animals. Phytoplankton is eaten by tiny floating animals known as zooplankton.

  • Zooplankton: microscopic animals in the water under the ice, for example, jellyfish are common zooplankton. Zooplankton in turn are food for fish. In the ocean food chain, Phytoplankton is the primary producer, Zooplankton is the primary consumer, fish is the secondary consumer and bacteria are decomposers. We study the process of energy flow through the food chain as one of objectives of this Arctic expedition.

  • We mainly use ROV technology (underwater robots) to study biota in the deep part of the Arctic Ocean. Besides that we also conduct research on large animals such as Arctic humpback whale. Humpback whales have extremely large heads, arched upper jaws and long flippers. As with other large whales that have been hunted commercially and threatened by environmental change, humpback whale numbers have fallen.

Due to time limitation, that is all for today.

The Web team gratefully acknowledges Fay Tang, NOAA Special Projects, for translating this audio clip into English.


Related Links

The Hidden Ocean, Arctic 2005

The Hidden Ocean, Arctic 2005: Zheng He Ocean Voyages

NOAA Ocean Explorer Gallery